Countrywide Protests against NEET Paper Leak and NTA Scam

Much to the dismay of lakhs of students, the NTA canceled the NEET PG exam on 22nd June, less than 12 hours from when it was scheduled to be held. This was the third national level exam after UGC NET and CSIR UGC NET, to be canceled within a span of four days. These cancellations came hot on the heels of the massive NEET UG 2024 Scam. The connecting factor in three out of four of these exams in question: NTA was the sole conducting body for the exams! According to NTA’s own data, a record 24 lakh students had registered for NEET UG this year! This along with more than 9 lakh applicants for UGC NET and a little less than half a lakh CSIR UGC NET applicants, take the total toll of NTA’s victims to about 34 lakh! These 34 lakh applicants were to be the country’s future doctors, scientists, professors and writers but instead they have been forced to roam the streets and brave this heatwave demanding justice for the theft of their hard work and dreams!

Following the announcement of the NEET UG 2024 result on 4th June and the simultaneous disclosure of massive irregularities in the same, the applicants began demanding that the exam be reconducted for all applicants. The fire of student movement against NTA was just igniting when AISA joined the fray! In the course of the past two and a half weeks, relentless protests by the student and youth has turned it into a roaring fire that has threatened the MoE to an extent that the Education Minister who was calling this disaster a controversy “motivated” by third parties has been forced to remove the Director General of NTA!

The first nation wide major call against this massive corruption was given by AISA with student demonstrations in front of the Ministry of Education in Delhi, universities and student centers in Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Karnataka, several parts of Bihar and Jharkhand on the 10th of June. The NTA Headquarter was gheraoed by NEET applicants and AISA the next day in Delhi and this culminated in a meeting with Vijay Kumar, Director of Examination, NTA. After the meeting it became even more clear that while the inefficient NTA was criminally guilty, the Ministry of Education’s monumental complacency in the entire matter can not be underestimated.

Daily student protests throughout the country ensured that no matter the MoE’s excuses of a ‘pending enquiry’ and the ‘sub judice matter’, the movement would not settle for anything less than Re-NEET for all students and a complete scrapping of the NTA. AISA’s Press Conference with NEET applicants at the Press Club of India, New Delhi on 15th June, 2024 ended with the call for a two ‘All India Students’ Strike’ on the 19th and 20th of June.

Students from across the country took to the streets on the two days! As the demonstration in front of MoE on 19th June was coming to an end for the day, the news of another paper leak reached the students! The UGC NET exam conducted by the NTA on the 18th of June had on 19th June been ‘found’ compromised because of a paper leak. Angry students demanding justice faced police batons and brutal detention at Lucknow University and Ministry of Education, Delhi on the very next day! Students in several parts of Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh also occupied the streets with Dharmendra Pradhan’s resignation as their main demand!

After the paper leak in UGC NET, the CSIR UGC NET as well as the NEET PG exams were postponed on the 21st and 22nd of June respectively. Following these cancellations, the demands of Re-NEET for all, a complete scrapping of NTA, an immediate resignation of Dharmendra Pradha and an end to all centralized exams including CUET have become the agenda of the student movement today.

Even though the entire nation is watching the NTA, it can't  help but flounder from the corruption that lies at the core of a system arising from the commercialisation and over-centralisation of higher education. The back to back cancellation of exams betrays the NTA’s desperation to hide this corruption. While the NTA continues to fumble, it is exposing the failing system and providing the student movement that was struggling post the lockdown with much needed firewood. Let the fire rage!

NEET Paper Leak  and NTA Scam